Cappadocia history and historical places of Cappadocia. Get facts, photos, and travel tips for Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, a World Heritage site in Turkey.
Göreme, in which there are many fairy chimneys and churches, is declared as an open air museum. Tokalı Church, the Priestesses and Priests Monastery, Saint Basil Chapel, Elmalı Church, Saint Barbara Chapel, Yılanlı (Saint Onuphrius) Church, Karanlık Church, Çarıklı Church, El Nazar Church, Saklı Church, Mother Mary (Kılıçlar Kuşluk) Church, Saint Eustathios Church and the Durmuş Kadir Churches, all of which are found within its territories, are valuable places to visit.
The valleys, which are composed of tuff rocks, between Göreme Valley and Aktepe, are known as Büyük and Küçük Kılıçlar. Kılıçlar Church is found in this valley, which has an impressive appearance with tunnels, fairy chimneys and curious shaped rocks.
The most stunning examples of the local landscape and the Fairy Chimneys can be seen along the route to Avanos. Many of these rock formations resemble animal (camels and rabbits can be seen frequently).
As a centre of grape and wine production, Kizilcukur, a couple of kilometres northwest of Ürgüp, contains churches cut into the strange rock formations and decorated with grape figures. The rocks are adorned by different colours, making them a spectacular sight at sunset.
Located 5km from Ürgüp, the small village of Mustafapasa has old stone houses with attractive carved facades dating back to the end of the 19th century, as well as a cluster of small churches. Once known as Sinasos, while it was a thriving Greek community before World War I, it makes an interesting trip from Ürgüp, although it is not easily accessible by public transport. Places of interest include a 19th century medrese, the Ayios Vasilios Church, and the Church of Sts Constantine and Helena. There are several small guest-houses and restaurants.
Sarıhan (Yellow Caravanserai), about 10km north of Ürgüp, was constructed by the Seljuk Sultan Alaattin Keykubat in 1217. It has a huge courtyard with an elaborate gateway, and was used for the loading of animals and as a resting place for travellers. It is also a unique example of the Seljuk-Turkish architecture. The road was re-laid and the building was restored in the late 1980s, and is now functioning as a museum and a cultural centre for the performances of whirling dervishes in the summer. There is rarely public transport to Sarıhan.
Engraved in the tuffs, these basilica-type churches were thought to have been used as hospital buildings by the Christians, and are now almost destroyed. Similar structures can also be seen in Ortahisar, such as St Peter and St Paul Churches.
Firatkan is a small complex of churches, located on the road to the Göreme Open Air Museum. They have two storeys, consisting of a dormitory, dining hall, kitchen and storerooms. The storeys are connected to each other through tunnels.
This village, 3 km southeast of the Goreme Valley, is most famous for its 50m high rock-castle, which is visible from the main road. It is possible to climb the rock, which offers stunning views of the surrounding area. This attractive farming village also exhibits the traces of the monastery lifestyle, and is a prominent cultural and commercial centre. Other places of interest in this area include the Harim Church, Sanca Church and Cambazlı Church.
About 5 km from Avanos and 1 km from Paşabağlari, Zelve was founded on the steep northern slopes of Aktepe. Consisting of three separate valleys, the ruins of Zelve is the area with the most ‘fairy chimneys’ – a famous sight special to Cappadocia – which here have sharp points and thick trunks. It is not known exactly when people began living in the dwellings carved into the rock, found in places like Uçhisar, Göreme, Çavuşin and Zelve. What is known is that Zelve sheltered a Christian community and became a religious centre in the 9th and 13th centuries, where, the first religious seminars for priests were held in the vicinity.
Çavuşin (Nicephorus Phocas) Church
This ancient city is found beside the Göreme-Avanos road, 2.5 km out of Göreme. The narthex of this church has fallen down. It has tunnel vaults, a high nave and 3 apses. It dates back to 964-965 A.D.
Güllüdere (St. Agathangelus) Church
This ancient city is located in the far left draw of the Güllüdere valley, about 2 km from the village of Çavuşin. It was founded at the mouth of the draw on top of a steep slope.
The shape of the nave is square, with a flat ceiling, and it has a single broad apse. The apse was added in the 9th or 10th century to the main structure dating back to the 6th – 7th century. There are 2 or 3 layers of frescoes in the apse which indicates that it was painted regularly. Symbols of Gospel authors are drawn symmetrically and are sitting on the right and left of an enthroned Jesus.
In the middle of the flat ceiling is the relief of a cross in the middle of a circle surrounded with palm leaves and garlands. This sort of relief, most probably, belongs to the Iconoclastic period. The people of the area had a great love for the cross and it continued to be used as a motif after the Iconoclastic era because it symbolized the “Holy Cross” in Jerusalem.
Özkonak Underground City
Located 14 km northeast of Avanos, this underground city was built on the northern slopes of Mt. Idis, in an area with strata made up of volcanic granite. The extensive galleries of the city are spread out over a large area and connected to each other by tunnels. The underground cities in Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, are very narrow (5 cm) and there are long holes between the different levels of the city that were used to provide communication between the different levels of the city. The ventilation of these neatly carved out rooms was provided by these holes when the city was sealed up against enemies.
The city was discovered in 1972 by the local muezzin and farmer Latif Acar, when he was trying to find out where the water disappeared, which was supposed to run towards his crops.
Similar to Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, Ozkonak has a ventilation system, a water well, a winery and rolling stone doors.
Opening hours: Summer 08.00 – 19.00; winter 08.00 – 17.00